Mental Health Awareness Lifestyle Feature

Mental Health Awareness Month: One Mississippi to discuss men’s mental health

Powerful, moving and funny… that’s how director Mark Jeary-Fairbairn would describe One Mississippi – a new show which focuses on men’s mental health and the stigma around it.

Part of the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival and travelling to Inverness and Aberdeen later this week, the new play is based on a collection of interviews with men across Scotland who came from various backgrounds.

Blending humour and storytelling with powerful elements of physical theatre, the show mainly explores the impact of childhood experiences on men’s adult lives.

“In Britain, reports on the suicide rate among British men indicate that it is at its highest level for more than a decade, and parts of Scotland have the highest levels in the country,” said Mariem Omari who wrote One Mississippi.

“In conjunction with this, new research suggests that childhood trauma is one of the leading causes of substance abuse and depression later in life.

Moving yet funny, one Mississippi’s director Mark Jeary-Fairbairn says that while the show is incredibly powerful and moving, it’s also very funny.“There are a lot of laughs and people are allowed to laugh,” said Mark.

The play – which marks the Mental Health Awareness Month (May) – aims to highlight the importance of talking about men’s mental health.

The director said: “I’ve had problems with my own mental health and struggles with addiction. I don’t think people realise the more we push it down and don’t talk about it, the more we give it to future generations (struggles with mental health).

“Men are brought up just to ‘get on with it’.”

And while there’s undoubtedly still a stigma around mental health, Mark thinks it’s “slowly getting better… but there is still a long way to go”. He’s certain that talking more openly about people’s struggles and seeing such conversations in pop culture experts will have a positive impact.

“The more that we see plays like this and things on TV where people are shown as rounded human beings rather than just struggling, the more likely it is, I think, that people will discuss it.”

But why is a show about men’s mental health called One Mississippi?

“Oh I don’t think I can tell you because it’s part of the plot,” said Mark, laughing.

“Come and see the show and you’ll find out why – it has nothing to do with the place or the American TV show.”

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Stevie Flavio
Film Writer


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